Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine treatment that helps to dispel cold and damp from the body. If you suffer from aches and pains, colds and flu, or even poor digestion, moxibustion can help to treat a wide range of conditions.
So what exactly is involved in this therapy? Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Matt Power has some great insight.
“Moxibustion is the burning of a herb called mugwort. It’s of the Artemesia genus. The herb is compressed into cigar-like rolls, or used in its raw form as rice grain-size pieces directly on the skin in direct moxibustion, to stimulate certain acupuncture points. When it’s used in herbal medicine as a herb, it has a warming nature and a bitter and acrid flavour.
“The warming nature carries on to when you burn it, so it warms the joints and it warms the muscles and it warms the meridians and the acupoints, allowing the qi and blood to move more freely. By moving the qi and the blood, it gets rid of pain which is one of the major reasons that it’s used. Being bitter and acrid it will clear phlegm and damp – two very common problems in Chinese medical terms – so it’s used quite frequently.
“Moxibustion can be considered a parallel therapy to acupuncture – you can use moxibustion or acupuncture quite commonly for the same thing. By combining the two, though, you can use the best of acupuncture and the best of the moxibustion.”
There are two forms of the therapy – direct and indirect moxibustion. But how exactly does this therapy work?
Raw moxa can be burnt as rice grain-size pieces directly on the acupoints to stimulate the function of the point. It can be burnt over the point as a moxa roll, indirectly warming the point and meridian. It can be placed in a moxa box to warm an area, such as the lower abdomen or back. It can be rubbed along the meridian in a tiger or lion warmer, or placed at the end of an inserted acupuncture needle to strengthen the stimulation of an acupoint.
Direct moxibustion is used to stimulate specific points, or in scarring moxibustion, where a point is burnt so that it is continuously stimulated by the healing process.
Indirect moxibustion is used when a larger area, such as a meridian or muscle group, is being treated. It is also the preference in paediatric treatments and in special techniques, such as burning moxa on ginger or salt.
When used as an adjunct to acupuncture, moxibustion enhances treatment for many disorders.
Conditions that can be treated include digestive disorders, such as diarrhoea or food stagnation, painful periods, sexual dysfunction, and poor concentration or memory. Sports injuries, frozen shoulders, and pain that worsens with cold can be treated as well. In short, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, there isn’t much that moxibustion cannot treat!
If you are a little worried about the burning aspect of the treatment, don’t be. It is very safe when you are in the hands of a qualified and skilled practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Some points on the body are not suited to moxibustion due to the risk of swelling or dizziness. However, a skilled practitioner will be able to assess any risk factors before going ahead with any treatment.
So if you’re suffering due to the cold in any way, why not consider a moxibustion treatment? Get an acupuncture treatment at the same time and you’ll feel so much more balanced, rejuvenated and healthy.

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Matt Power is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine registered in acupuncture with both Australian clinical and Chinese hospital experience and further training in Australian TCM clinical paediatrics. More than ten years of massage training and practice compliment the acupuncture and herbal components of Matt’s work.

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